Alior to list in Warsaw after missing banking M&A boat

By bne IntelliNews November 9, 2012

bne -

Though the subject of M&A rumours throughout year, Polish lender Alior Bank announced on November 8 that it now hopes to raise PLN700m (€168m) through an IPO in Warsaw before the end of the year.

The privately held bank, which started operations in 2008, hopes to raise the capital through the issue of new shares. At the same time, current owner Carlo Tassara plans to also offer part of its shares. The statement does not specify the volume the investment vehicle of Romain Zaleski - a French businessman of Polish descent - aims to place, but claims that following the float, over 50% of Alior will be listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

"The Offering will be addressed to institutional investors and retail investors in Poland and to eligible institutional investors outside Poland," the statement reads. "The Offering is expected to be completed in the course of the fourth quarter of 2012, subject to market conditions."

Alior has been considering raising capital for some time as it battles high deposit rates on the Polish market during its attempt to establish market share. Earlier this year, it was reported to be considering the sale of a stake to a strategic investor. Interested parties were reported to be mainly private equity funds, although Russian giant Sberbank was also said to be sniffing around as its interest in larger Polish banks was rebuffed by Warsaw.

However, Alior looks to have missed the boat. The Polish banking sector saw a rash of large acquisitions in the 18 months or so before this spring, which was bookended by Spanish giant Santander's purchases of Bank Zachodni WBK and Kredyt Bank. That activity was in contrast to the rest of CEE, where the Eurozone crisis has reduced pricing to such an extent that even the capital hungry Euozone banks that own many of them are unwilling to unload.

Poland and Turkey were the exceptions to the rule however, and thanks to forecasts of robust growth continuing through the crisis, were trumpeted to be the top target market across the continent. However, in the second half of the year, the Polish economy has been caught up in the chaos, while a crisis in the country's construction sector has hit the banking sector estimated profitability hard.

That appears to leave an IPO as the best option for Carlo Tassara, which is speculated to be under pressure from creditors, according to Dow Jones. The Warsaw Stock Exchange has seen 16 IPOs this year, mostly of relatively small value. Power utility ZE PAK pushed through the largest of the year so far in October, although worries about its assets and the level of competition it faces held back interest, producing a disappointing value of PLN682m for the treasury.

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